Exeter College

Manuscripts and printed books from the library at Exeter College, Oxford, including the 14th century Bohun Psalter.

The College has extensive special collections with material dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries. The collection of early printed books includes 75 incunables and other rare works, some thought to be unique to Exeter College. There are more than 200 manuscripts, 86 of which are medieval.

The special collections were acquired by purchase and donation from the earliest days of the College to date, and cover a wide range of subjects. As might be expected there are many books and manuscripts with a West Country connection, for example books printed at Tavistock Abbey in the 16th century, notable donations from West Country clergy, and the manuscript of a novel by the author of ‘Lorna Doone’. The college also holds several items relating to the Pre Raphaelite Movement including two copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer, one of which belonged to William Morris and one to Edward Burne-Jones.

Exeter College is seeking to digitize and make accessible its special collections, starting with the College collection of medieval manuscripts, as well as some important later material and items from its archive. In 2018, the College digitized the 14th century Psalter of Humphrey de Bohun, which served as the prayer book to two English Queens, Elizabeth of York and Katherine of Aragon.

Other digitized items include MS 235, the teaching notes of John Prideaux, Rector of the College in the early 17th century; the only surviving copy of the 16th century "Tinners’ Charter"; and MS 186, a 14th century Italian manuscript copy of Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars once owned by Petrarch and containing his marginal notes.